Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedures Policy
Last Updated 19 May 2020
This policy sets out the temporary changes to Society policy and procedures for colleagues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
Key policies covered:
- Managing Attendance Policy
- Personal Mobile Devices Policy
- Annual Leave Policy
- Flexible Working Policy
About this Policy
The Society is committed to helping reduce the spread of coronavirus and safeguard the welfare of our colleagues during the coronavirus outbreak, whilst continuing our business operations as normally as possible. Given the current global health situation, we recognise we need to adapt some of our ways of working.
This policy sets out the temporary changes we are making to our current Society policies and procedures during this global health crisis.
Please also refer to the Temporary Home Working Policy which sets out the home working procedures for colleagues during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis.
This policy is non-contractual and the Society may amend it at any time.
Managing Attendance Policy
Notification of Absence
Under our normal Managing Attendance Policy, if a colleague is unable to attend work due to sickness they are required to inform their line manager (or another designated manager or sick reporting line where available) as soon as reasonably possible. Colleagues are required to report their absence from work each day, where the absence is not covered by a doctor’s fit note. Where the sickness absence is longer than 7 days, the absence must be covered by a Doctor’s fit note.
If a colleague or anyone in their household develops:
A high temperature; and/or
a continuous cough;
a loss of, or change to, your sense of smell or taste
They must not attend work and must follow the Government’s self-isolation guidance.
If you live alone:
If you live alone and you have symptoms of coronavirus illness (COVID-19), however mild, stay at home for 10 days from when your symptoms started. After 10 days, if you do not have a high temperature, you do not need to continue to self-isolate. If you still have a high temperature, keep self-isolating until your temperature returns to normal.
If you are not experiencing symptoms but have tested positive for coronavirus you must also self-isolate for 10 days, starting from the day the test was taken. If you develop symptoms during this isolation period, you must restart your 10-day isolation from the day you develop symptoms.
If you live with others or have formed a support bubble:
If you live with others or have formed a support bubble and you are the first to have symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) and/or tested positive, then you must stay at home for 10 days, but all other household members or members of your support bubble who remain well must stay at home and not leave the house for 14 days. The 14 day period starts from the day when the first person in the house or support bubble became ill (or the day they were tested if they have not had symptoms). For anyone else in the household or support bubble who starts displaying symptoms and/or tests positive for coronavirus, they need to stay at home for 10 days from when the symptoms appeared, regardless of what day they are on in the original 14 day isolation period.
If you are tested for coronavirus and your test comes back negative, you should keep self-isolating for the rest of the 14 days.
If you have not had symptoms, but you have tested positive for coronavirus, the 10 days starts from when you had the test, But if you get symptoms while you are self-isolating, the 10 days restarts from when your symptoms started.
What is a support bubble? – A support bubble is where people who live in a ‘single adult’ household meet people from 1 other household and do not have to socially distance. Anyone in your support bubble counts as one (linked or extended) household. You should not change or add to your support bubble once formed.
If you have been advised to self-isolate, you will not be expected to attend work for the self- isolation period. You must notify your manager of the advice that you have been provided and call the HR advice line on 01926 516 469.
Test and Trace service:
If you have been notified by the NHS Test and Trace service that you need to self-isolate for 14 days due to coming into close contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus, then you must follow the guidance given and stay at home for the self-isolation period, even if you have no symptoms. Other members of the household will not have to self-isolate unless the person identified becomes symptomatic, at which point they must also self-isolate for 14 days. To support colleagues during the Test and Trace implementation, we have temporarily amended the Society Personal Mobile Devices Policy, please see more detail on the temporary changes below.
For more guidance on the NHS Test and Trace service please visit the dedicated Colleagues Connect Coronavirus page.
You do not have to get medical advice from NHS 111 to self-isolate. However, if your symptoms worsen during self-isolation or are no better after seven days, you should contact NHS online.
Where possible we ask colleagues to use the NHS online service to obtain a self-isolation note. Colleagues can obtain this by completing a simple questionnaire on the NHS 111 online isolation note page. This note should then be forwarded to the HR advice line at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We ask those colleagues that have been asked to self-isolate by the NHS Test and Trace service to provide evidence of this notification when reporting their absence.
A letter from the NHS advising you to "self-shield" because of a serious underlying health condition means that you are at high risk is also sufficient evidence - see Government advice on shielding for more details.
If you have no internet access, you should call NHS 111. Please dial 999 only if you have a medical emergency.
Please note: If you are self-isolating or shielding in line with government guidance, we may ask to furlough your employment and if this is the case you will receive communication from the Society regarding this process and to gain your consent. Please see the Job retention Scheme Section and FAQ’s on the Society Colleagues Connect Coronavirus page for more details, or contact the HR advice line on email@example.com.
Acceptable Levels of Absence
The Society operates a system of trigger points to manage levels of absence. We would normally invoke a formal process when a trigger point has been reached. For example, a stage 1 trigger point will be reached if a colleague has had 3 separate instances of absence (whether full or part day sickness absence), within a 26 week rolling period.
If you are shielding or in self-isolation because:
you or anyone you are living with displays symptoms;
have been given medical advice to shield or self-isolate (for example from NHS 111); or
we request you to shield or self-isolate,
We will not take this absence into account when determining whether or not we are taking formal action under our managing attendance procedure.
Company/Statutory sick pay is outlined in the Colleague Handbook and colleagues should refer to their contracts of employment for details of the particular sick pay scheme which applies to them.
Normally sick pay will be calculated based upon length of service, and based on rolling 12 month periods.
Colleagues with a length of service of less than one year are not entitled to company sick pay. Colleagues with 1 years’ service but less than 2 years are entitled to 1 week company sick pay.
Statutory sick pay will be payable to all qualifying colleagues, irrespective of their length of service.
For some roles, the Society does not pay sick pay for the first three days of absence (often referred to as the “waiting days”).
The Society has made the decision to increase the element of company sick pay for colleagues with under 2 years’ service by one week. Colleagues who were employed by the Society on or before 24/03/2020 with less than 1 years’ service will receive 1 week’s full company sick pay and colleagues with 1 year but less than 2 years’ service will receive 2 week’s full company sick pay.
Eligible colleagues could receive statutory sick pay (SSP) from day one if you cannot work and you’re:
self-isolating because you or someone you live with has coronavirus symptoms;
self-isolating because you are in a “bubble” with someone in a “linked household” or “extended household” that has coronavirus symptoms;
self-isolating because you’ve received a test and trace alert advising that you are required to self-isolate; or
staying at home because you have been told to ‘shield’ by the NHS because of an underlying health condition.
You cannot get SSP if you’re self-isolating after entering or returning to the UK, you cannot work from home and do not need to self-isolate for any other reason.
The Society has also made the decision to pay sick pay for the first three days (waiting days) of absence for those roles who are not usually entitled if:
you have a confirmed case of coronavirus; or
you have received a test and trace alert advising that you are required to self-isolate; or
if a member your household has tested positive for the virus
Colleagues will need to provide evidence to their line manager to enable them to process company sick pay from day one.
Personal Mobile Devices Policy
Under our normal Personal Mobile Devices Policy, colleagues must limit the use of their own devices to allocated break times and in dedicated break areas, unless otherwise agreed with their manager. Colleagues and visitors of our Society nurseries must never use mobile devices whilst children are present or in view.
We have temporarily amended the Society Personal Mobile Devices Policy to support colleagues during the Test and Trace implementation. For frontline colleagues working in our trading branches, you will now be able to keep your mobile phone on your person in case you receive a Test & Trace text or call. Please note that this is the sole purpose for its use whilst you are working. For Childcare colleagues, regulatory reasons prevent us from extending this arrangement, but phones can be checked at two-hour intervals. This temporary amendment will only remain in place for the length of the Test & Trace process.
Annual Leave Policy
The Society’s annual leave year runs from 1st April to 31st March each year.
Normally, holiday entitlement must be taken during the holiday year in which it accrues. Any holiday not taken by the end of the holiday year will be lost and you will not receive any payment in lieu of it.
Only in exceptional circumstances, where it has not been possible to take the full entitlement in the current holiday year, and where the colleague receives advance approval from their manager, the remaining days may be carried into the following holiday year.
Colleagues with 5 years’ service or more are entitled to bank up to 15 days annual leave (maximum of 5 days or equivalent per leave year over a 3-year period).
We recognise that you may be unable to take your remaining annual leave before the end of the leave year. For example, you could have an increased workload because of the coronavirus situation.
We want to encourage our colleagues to take annual leave despite the circumstances to ensure they are getting the required rest, but if you think you will not be able to take your annual leave in this holiday year please speak to your Manager who can authorise you to carry up to two weeks annual leave into the following two annual leave years.
Booked Annual Leave
Usually we allow colleagues to cancel or change annual leave in special circumstances, for example, where colleagues have fallen ill before or during annual leave or where personal circumstances warrant it and the cancellation or change does not inconvenience the business operations.
During the coronavirus situation, if colleagues are unable to travel to their planned destination, you may wish to cancel or change annual leave that you have already booked.
If you would like to cancel or change planned leave, please speak to your line manager in the first instance. We may allow you to change or cancel booked holiday, taking into account the coronavirus situation. However, this will continue to be a decision for your line manager, depending on the circumstances, and the wellbeing of our colleagues will be considered when making a decision as we need to ensure that our colleagues are having appropriate rest away from work.
For example, if we have arranged cover for your shift patterns on the basis that you will be on leave, or we have a large number of colleagues building up holiday entitlement they have not taken, we may request you to take the leave as booked or ask you to book in leave which has been accrued to be taken in a certain timescale, for example at least one week every 3 months of the holiday year.
For colleagues who wish to travel abroad at this time, you may be required to self-isolate for 14 days upon your return to the UK, as per the Government guidelines on entering or returning to the UK. It is a colleague's responsibility to understand if such a period of isolation will be required when they are considering travelling abroad.
Colleagues will need to take the required self-isolation period into consideration when booking international travel and agree the total period of leave required in advance with their line manager. Colleagues should also consider any imposed guidelines upon entering the country they plan to travel to.
Line managers should take into consideration operational needs in determining whether a colleague’s leave can be authorised or not.
Colleagues will be expected to book the full period of leave required as either annual leave, TOIL if available or unpaid leave, following the correct procedure outlined in the relevant Society policy. Where colleagues can work from home, such arrangements should be discussed and agreed with their manager when considering the period of leave.
The Society will consider individual colleague reasons for travelling abroad at this time. Where there are exceptional circumstances, for example where a colleague is required to travel for compassionate reasons, additional paid compassionate leave may be agreed at the Society’s discretion to cover the extended period of leave due to the quarantine period.
The Society may also, at it’s discretion, request that a colleague performs duties during a quarantine period if it is safe to do so, is within Government regulations and where the Society deems the role or duties significant or critical to the operation of the business. The colleague will be paid as normal for any hours worked as part of this request.
If a colleague starts to display symptoms of coronavirus during a period of leave, the colleague should follow the process outlined above to notify the Society, the colleague must stay at home for a further 7 days from when the symptoms started.You do not have to get medical advice from NHS 111 to self-isolate. However, if your symptoms worsen during self-isolation or are no better after seven days, you should contact NHS 111 or in a medical emergency call 999. Where a colleague falls ill during a period of leave, the period of absence may be recorded as sickness absence.
We appreciate that countries and territories can be taken off or added to the exempt list where no self-isolation is required on arrival in England at any time. Before you travel you must check the status of your destination by visiting the FCO website and update you manager accordingly if there is any change in travel guidance.
For colleagues who are subjected to quarantine on arrival in the UK having travelled to a destination which was on the Governments Foreign & Commonwealth Office (FCO’s) approved destination list at the time of arrival at that destination, the Society will endeavour to provide that colleague with tasks which can be completed at home or their place of quarantine and the colleague will be paid their normal basic pay for this. This will require flexibility on the part of the colleague, particularly those normally working in customer-facing operations. If for any reason this is not possible, or the colleague chooses to not take up this opportunity, they will be permitted to take unpaid leave or use any outstanding holiday entitlement from the current 2020/21 holiday year.
However where colleagues who travel to a destination which is not on the Governments FCO’s approved destination at the time of departure and who are required to quarantine on return to the UK. The colleague will be permitted to take either available annual leave, TOIL if available or unpaid leave. If the Society deems that they can perform duties safely from quarantine and that their role is of operational necessity, we may, at our complete discretion, ask that colleague to work for which they will be paid accordingly.
For any colleague returning from a country that requires a quarantine period on arrival back in the UK, you should call the HR Advice Line on 01926 516469 before returning to work, where you will be asked a short series of questions to establish how the Society can best support you.
Please also be aware that your decision to travel abroad at this time could have implications on other Society benefits, please find more information here.
Flexible Working Policy
Under our Flexible Working Policy, colleagues can normally make a formal request to change their working conditions if they have at least 26 weeks service with the Society and have not submitted a request in the previous 12 months.
There are different types of flexible working options, such as:
Working from home
Working reduced hours
Working compressed hours
Working a set number of hours per year
If the Society agrees to the request, changes to a colleague’s terms of employment will be permanent.
Given the current global health situation, colleagues should be working remotely unless their work absolutely cannot be done from home. Colleagues should refer to the Society’s Temporary Home Working Policy.
Where colleagues wish to request temporary flexible working arrangements due to the coronavirus crisis for example: adapt working patterns to allow you to balance working from home with caring responsibilities. Colleagues can agree flexible working arrangements informally with their line manager.
You should speak to your line manager if you wish to take advantage of any flexible working options that may help you at this time. However, the decision as to whether or not to agree to your request for flexible working remains with your line manager. Line managers should get advice from their HR advisor when considering a flexible working request.
Once agreed, the temporary flexible working arrangement will continue until further notice. If circumstances change, your manager will discuss with you any adaptations to, or the withdrawal of, the flexible working arrangement, with the final decision remaining with your manager.
If you have any questions regarding coronavirus, please visit the dedicated Society Colleagues Connect Coronavirus page.
If you have any questions regarding this policy or require additional support, you should speak to your line manager for the appropriate support. Alternatively, colleagues can contact the HR Advisor for their business group, or contact the HR Advice Line on 01926 516469 or via email on firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are entering into self-isolation or have a confirmed diagnosis of coronavirus please inform your line manager and contact the HR Advice Line - 01926 516 469 to seek advice on any queries or questions regarding how this impacts their employment or how any time away from the Society will be treated.
The Society will continue to review the situation and how this evolves, and such policies will be under constant review.
Temporary Changes to Society Policies and Procedure Policy
Date of last review: